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What separates design from any art is that design is meant to be functional. This is what should be the aim of creating any web pages for your site visitors.

In designing a website, the key point to remember is that it must be first user-friendly and functional.

As a business, you’ll need a website design to serve you by drawing the attention of prospects to become potential clients. Having a website that looks appealing to the site visitors is one thing and it being user-friendly is another.

Creating a balance in your website design process by following the key design principles, improves the experience of your website.

Statistics and facts on the website design, according to

  • As of December 2018, there are approximately 1.94 billion websites in the world.
  • Over 4 million blog posts are published on the Internet every day.
  • Google is the world’s most visited website, followed by Youtube and Facebook. Chinese search engine Baidu is the world’s fourth most visited website.
  • WordPress is the world’s number one CMS, with a 59.7 per cent market share and about 22.6 million active sites.

As websites are being created every day ranging from e-commerce, blogs, and online community among others the facts remain the experience you create will depend on the given set of design principles that we will cover in this article.

As the trend illustrates that 63.4 per cent of all mobile phone users in 2019 will access the Internet from their mobile phone. It is important to conder the mobile device in your website design process.

Some facts:

The point of having a mere website might make the site not be functional leave alone the converting the site visitors to potential customers.

Let’s go through, some of the principles of good basic website design:


1. Visual Hierarchy

So, visual hierarchy is all about knowing where the visitor will look first and then the eye moves across a web page.

Our eye movement (visual hierarchy) is mostly based on the arrangement of the visual elements font size, colour, texture and white space on a web page.

The principle of the visual hierarchy should guide how a designer arranges the information according to its importance for visitors to convert in the process.

Your website calls to action, forms, and value propositions need to be clear and visible from the arrangement of content for the website visitor to understand the action needed.

Knowing the objective that you would wish to achieve, should guide you to draw the attention of viewers to that element of significant value to your business.

For example, if you are having an e-commerce website any prospects would need to grasp where the price tag of a product is, where added to a chart is and the check out too. The eye needs to land on these areas automatically for you to increase your sales.

First, find out which information is the most important and which is less crucial. This will guide you on how to position them.

Secondly, have the most vital information at the place where the viewer’s eye is likely to land first as the attention span of people decreases as they progress to stay on your website.


2. Grid Systems

The Grid System is a structure comprising a series of lines – vertical or intersecting dividing a page into columns or modules.

This framework formed by the grid serves as a guide for the page layout. While in some instances the lines of a grid are not necessarily visible others opt to have them.

To break it down, think of it as a skeleton or wireframes on which a designer can organize graphic elements for example where the text sections will be, images and other functional elements.

As a designer arrange content on the page, this structure helps you to manage the proportions between the elements to be aligned on the page.

Many variations to the grids when trying them out help the designer to build better digital products. With proper execution of grids with the different design elements together to achieve effective hierarchy, alignment and consistency make the design appear thoughtful and well-organized.

Grids are also essential to create responsive designs for mobile devices. When creating a social media page design so that people can stay on the page that has all elements placed in the right proportion.

Grids are essential in the design process of a website in arranging text, images and other design elements. Grids also work similarly in the arrangement of a magazine, newspaper or book. You should use grids and also keep different elements in their right proportions.


3. White Space

Whitespace is the negative area in a composition. It is the space between columns, margins, graphics, lines, etc. It is basically referred to as ‘blank space’ however it is of significance as a design element.

Designing clean web pages that are minimalistic makes the viewers focus on some key visuals such as products or services that are essential.

The space between different elements gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus.

The negative area created by the white space is about the careful use of the hierarchy of information in the form of images, colours or typeface.

The concept of having a blank space is beyond aesthetic as they actually have an impact on how we take in and process new material. In the case of too much information or visual data crowded in a given area causes it difficult to absorb.

Design with white space around its elements makes the design stand out and clean, easy for the readers to process the information.

4. Web Safe Fonts

A typeface is a powerful tool for expressing personality, grabbing attention and creating memories. Web designers would use typography on websites to engage their audience.

As an individual load your web page either on a desktop or a mobile phone, from any browser, depending on the font installed on their machine, your website may not display with your web font as your view on your end.

Using web-safe font ensures that your website visitors have a consistent experience as they view your pages.

Related: How To Choose The Best Fonts For Your Web Design.

Related: How To Choose The Right Typeface A Comprehensive Guide

Maintain a minimum number of fonts used on your website to have an appealing experience.

The typefaces used need to be simple, clear and classical like serif, sans-serif and also, and slab serif will communicate this clearly.

5. Hick’s Law

Delivering a good user experience requires that first, you find out the functionalities that will answer their needs. Second, you need to guide them to the specific functions they need most.

What you need to avoid most is users ending up being stuck in the decision-making process, making them feel confused, frustrated and end up leaving your website.

It is, therefore, better to eliminate as many distracting elements as you can. Add better filters so that users can make decisions seamlessly.

According to Hick’s Law – the more choices you present your users with, the longer it takes them to reach a decision.

Hick’s Law helps you analyze the functions you need to add to any part of your website and how it will improve the experience of the users as they approach decision-making.

Consider the typical process a website visitor would take to decide on which action to take. You might need to pilot a survey on how the experience is with the website visitors in making decisions about your call to action, forms etc.

Also, limit your navigation options on the web page to have easy navigation. You should also limit the number of lists.

Keep the interactive options restricted to fewer numbers as it is stated Keep It Simple for a better decision-making process.

Related: Common Designers Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs


Having these fundamental principles in mind when designing your website should make the result look appealing and useful to the viewers, and eventually turn them into your potential customers.

Which principles to follow from time to time when developing a website?

Paul Simiyu

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.